Chuck Schumer to Bush on Prosecutor Purge: Explain Yourself

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Today, Senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein held a press conference (above) to discuss the most recent developments in the case of the fired U.S. Attorneys, namely how shady the Justice Department and the White House appear to have been, and to make clear that the stepping down of Kyle Sampson, Gonzales’ chief of staff, “does not take heat off the attorney general.” If you haven’t been following the investigation, both Schumer and Feinstein give a good chronology of events. (TPMmuckraker was nice enough to transcribe for us.)

There were several things worth noting from both Feinstein and Schumer’s speeches. Schumer called again for Alberto Gonzales to step down and said:

“Attorney General Gonzales has either forgotten the oath he took to uphold the Constitution or just doesn’t understand that his duty to protect the law is greater than his duty to protect the president.”

Schumer called on Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and George Bush to come forward and explain themselves. Schumer says of Bush:

“The president must clarify his role in this whole matter…the cloud over the U.S. attorneys, the cloud over the Justice Department is getting darker and darker.”

Feinstein went on to discuss most notably the Patriot Act:

“We now know that it is very likely that the amendment to the Patriot Act… might well have been done to facilitate a wholesale replacement of all or part of U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation.”

This is an interesting part of the probe because it not only implies careful calculation on the part of the White House and the DOJ but it may implicate Senate Judiciary Committee (the senate committee investigating the firings) Ranking Minority Member Arlen Specter, whose chief of staff Michael O’Neill, under “orders from the DOJ,” slipped the amendment into the Reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Specter is now co-sponsoring a bill to reverse the amendment — perhaps to save face?

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